(Sandy) Alex G – Rocket (2017)

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(Sandy) Alex G is an artist with a wide range of influences. Since he self released his early albums, he had the freedom to experiment with whatever sounds he felt like. However, even with this freedom and wide influence, he retained a signature lo-fi sound. Though he’s now signed to a label, thankfully this hasn’t changed – if anything, he’s experimenting more with his sound. As well as his more typical indie rock and folk pieces, he’s dabbling in indie pop, country, and even experimental/noise rock.

Rocket feels like a tour through his many musical interests. The first few tracks all have a distinctly country feel. From the banjos of the opening track, “Poison Root”, to the violin, slide guitar, and vocal harmonies of “Bobby”, Alex incorporates different elements of country music to great effect. Following this, we move into more experimental territory. “Witch” features some ominous harpsichord, eerie vocals, and screechy violins. “Horse” and “Brick” both implement noise elements. The former features disharmonious guitar and clanging piano scales, all underpinned by synths that sound almost off key, while the latter is probably Alex’s heaviest track to date. Distorted guitars ring out over a fuzzy bass and drum groove, while he delivers a very angry and screechy vocal performance. It’s probably my favorite track on the album.

Later, we can hear more of a pop influence. Perhaps this is due to his collaborations with Frank Ocean on Blonde and Endless last year. “Sportstar” features some beautiful piano and some pitch-shifted and autotuned vocals. This effect returns in the following track, this time over some picked acoustic guitars and piano. The title track then serves as another divide – an instrumental piece, we move into the more familiar territory of indie folk, albeit with the occasional country embellishment. You can hear the influence of Elliott Smith, previously cited by Alex, in these tracks. Between the picked guitar, gentler singing, and more personal lyrics, the connection is obvious, especially on the track “Big Fish”. “Alina” features a very relaxed and airy vocal performance from Emily Yacina, a frequent collaborator who also sings on “Bobby”.

The closing track, “Guilty”, even enters jazz territory, with a jazz-influenced bass line, drums, electronic piano, and even a saxophone solo! There are more jazzy moments sprinkled throughout this album. “Witch” has a distinctly jazzy rhythm section, and “County” ends by slipping into a bit of a jazz jam. Throughout Rocket, (Sandy) Alex G creates a world of diversity. Even though it makes for a slightly incoherent listening experience at times, it more than makes up for this, as it takes you on an expansive and eclectic musical journey.

Author: Cian

Cian is an Irish grad student and aspiring musician. He has previously written album reviews for his university newspaper. A complete music obsessive, he spends most of his waking hours listening to, discussing, and reading about music!

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